Over the course of my graduate studies, I have contributed to the development and application of smartphone sensing methods in psychological research. In my work, I combine smartphone sensor data with ecological momentary assessments (EMAs) to study mental health and personality. The EMAs prompt individuals to respond to questions about their mood, stress levels, or current activities. The combination of sensor and questionnaire data allows me to uncover previously unknown relationships between objective, behavioral patterns (e.g., mobility patterns) and subjective psychological phenomena (e.g., mental health).

Harari, G. M., Stachl, C., Müller, S. R., & Gosling, S. D. (in press). Mobile sensing for studying personality dynamics in daily life. In J. F. Rauthmann (Ed.), Handbook of Personality Dynamics & Processes. Elsevier.

 

Harari, G. M., Müller, S. R., Stachl, C., Wang, R., Wang, W., Bühner, M., Rentfrow, P. J., Campbell, A. T., & Gosling, S.D. (2019). Sensing sociability: Individual differences in young adults’ conversation, calling, texting, and app use behaviors in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. [Link]

 

Wang, W., Harari, G. M., Wang, R., Müller, S. R., Mirjafari, S., Masaba, K., & Campbell, A. T. (2018). Sensing Behavioral Change over Time: Using Within-Person Variability Features from Mobile Sensing to Predict Personality Traits. Proceedings of the ACM on Interactive, Mobile, Wearable and Ubiquitous Technologies, 2(3), 141:1-21. [Link]

Harari, G. M., Müller, S. R., Gosling, S. D. (2018). Naturalistic assessment of situations using mobile sensing methods. In J. F. Rauthmann, R. Sherman, D. C. Funder (Eds.), Oxford Handbook of Psychological Situations (pp.1-28). Oxford: Oxford University Press. [Link]

Harari, G. M., Wang, W., Müller, S. R., Wang, R., & Campbell, A. T. (2017). Participants' compliance and experiences with self-tracking using a smartphone sensing app. In Proceedings of the 2017 ACM International Joint Conference on Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing and Proceedings of the 2017 ACM International Symposium on Wearable Computers, 57-60. [Link]

Harari, G. M., Müller, S. R., Aung, H., Rentfrow, P. J. (2017). Smartphone sensing methods for studying behavior in everyday life. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 18, 83-90. [Link]

Harari, G. M., Müller, S. R., Mishra, V., Wang, R., Campbell, A. T., Rentfrow, P. J., & Gosling, S. D. (2017). An evaluation of students’ interest in and compliance with self-tracking methods: Recommendations for incentives based on three smartphone sensing studies. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 8(5), 479-492. [Link]

What can we learn from smartphone mobility measures?

While modern smartphones feature many sensors, those related to human mobility (e.g., GPS, Wi-Fi, accelerometer) hold perhaps the greatest promise for psychological research. The GPS sensor is one of the most reliable, readily and often near-continuously available data sources in a smartphone and captures information about places visited and distances travelled, which in turn can be used to make inferences about people’s daily routines. Despite the fact that GPS data provides information on many aspects of human life (e.g., where individuals spend their time and how they move in the physical space that surrounds them), GPS data has been largely neglected by psychologists. In my research, I examine the potential value of GPS data for research on personality and mental health.

Müller, S. R.*, Peters, H.*, Matz, S., Wang, W., Harari, G. M. (under review). Everyday mobility behaviors predict psychological well-being among young adults. Manuscript submitted for publication.

 

* These authors contributed equally to the work.

Exploring the relationship between people and places

In my work, I showcase how smartphone sensing technology coupled with web mapping services and psychological assessments can enhance our understanding of the relationship between people’s psychological characteristics and the places where they spend their time.

 

Places can be characterized in terms of objective information, such as whether the place is a café, shop or park, or which socio-economic area it falls into. However, places can also be described in terms of the psychological responses they invoke in their inhabitants. Social scientists have used people’s impressions of places to understand aspects of a place, such as aesthetics, interestingness and safety. More recent technological developments, such as Google Streetview, have enabled researchers to see a 3D view of a place without needing to leave their office, prompting a growing body of research using such tools to understand places. The preliminary findings of my research in this area suggest that it is possible to rate the ambience and personality of places obtained from GPS data and that this approach can be used to understand the psychological characteristics of places and the people who spend time in them.

Müller, S. R., Harari, G. M., Mehrotra, A., Matz, S., Khambatta, P., Musolesi, M., Mascolo, C., Gosling, S. D. & Rentfrow, P. J. (2017). Using human raters to characterize the psychological characteristics of GPS-based places. In Proceedings of the 2017 ACM International Joint Conference on Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing and Proceedings of the 2017 ACM International Symposium on Wearable Computers, 157-160. [Link]

Mehrotra, A., Müller, S. R., Harari, G. M., Gosling, S. D., Mascolo, C., Musolesi, M., & Rentfrow, P. J. (2017). Understanding the role of places and activities on mobile phone interaction and usage patterns. In Proceedings of the ACM on Interactive, Mobile, Wearable and Ubiquitous Technologies (IMWUT), 1(3), 84:1-22. [Link]

© 2019 by Sandrine Müller.